If there is a bomb threat called into your workplace, who conducts the search?
The Ministry of Education requires each School Board to have a set of Emergency Procedures which includes bomb threats. The Board should consult with the local Fire and Police Departments to develop a co-ordinated response plan. The Joint Health and Safety Committee should play a key role in both the development and the implementation of the Emergency Procedures.
Implementation of the procedure must involve:
- informing every employee of the procedure,
- establishing an Emergency Response Team in each school,
- placing a Bomb Threat Checklist at every telephone which receives incoming calls,
- training the secretary/receptionist who receives incoming calls, and
- regularly practising an evacuation procedure.
The decision to conduct a search must be made after assessing the nature of the threat. There will then be three choices regarding a search:
- Immediate partial or full evacuation of the building without prior search; or
- Search by trained personnel (e.g. designated staff, or police) before or after evacuation; or
- Search by all staff before any evacuation.
Right to refuse to search
Employees do not have the right to refuse to search their immediate work area for suspicious packages. The Ministry of Labour (MOL) advises that since employees are most qualified to notice an unusual or suspicious object in their own work area, conducting a search of that work area could be considered a reasonable job function. Also, the MOL considers that until a suspicious object is found, reasonable grounds for believing that a bomb is present have not been established.
OSSTF/FEESO Members should co-operate in order to protect the safety of all employees and students.
However, a request to search outside your immediate work area where it is unlikely that you could identify a suspicious object, could be considered unreasonable and therefore, acceptable grounds for a refusal to do unsafe work. This would include being asked to search lockers.
Points to consider
Good housekeeping and security will reduce the possibility of unnoticed intrusion and the number of areas where a bomb might be left. Do not use cellular phones during a bomb threat (could detonate an explosive device).
What to look for when searching your immediate work area
- something that should not be there
- signs of forced entry in the area
- object similar to description from bomb threat
- object or package is suspicious in
- presence of tape, wire, or explosive's wrappings
- signs of tampering with electrical installations
- Do not touch the suspicious object or package.
If you find a suspicious object
- Clear all persons from the vicinity immediately.
- Notify the Principal (or supervisor).
- Have police notified.
During a bomb threat evacuation
Take all your personal belongings, such as: purses, briefcases, lunch bags from your immediate area so they do not confuse authorities conducting a search. Once outside, move well away from the building, especially any windows.